Whose Fault Is Their Addiction Anyway?
Have you ever been blamed for someone’s decision to abuse drugs or alcohol?
Perhaps the all too familiar you made me do it is something you’ve heard a time or two.
The truth of the matter is that you are not, and should never be, responsible for another person’s decisions.
To deal with this sort of backlash, we must first understand it for the 3 things it really is.
An addict always wants a second chance. Another night to stay. One more dollar to spare. And if they can convince you that you’re the reason they relapsed, you are much more likely to give in to their demands. Why? Because it’s your fault so you should compensate for your fault in the matter, right?
Of course not. But that’s what they are hoping to make you feel.
Nobody wants to admit that they are the reason something went wrong. Car accidents are always the other driver’s fault. Bad grades are the teacher’s fault. And the cycle continues.
Unfortunately, that cycle enters into the world of addiction. Since, according to the person abusing drugs and alcohol, it’s not their fault, then they are not responsible for changing it.
Avoiding responsible makes it easy to continue using because it makes it sound as if the addiction is beyond their control.
Since addicts avoid responsibility, and obviously their decision to abuse substances is somebody’s fault, then guess who’s fault it is.
Wrong. The addict is seeking someone to blame. And the people closest to them are the easiest targets.
But just because you’re being accused of causing someone’s relapse doesn’t mean you actually are. In fact, the exact opposite is often closer to the truth – the addict’s hope of recovery is, in some ways, linked to your love for them.
Therefore, you may be the source of their encouragement. But you certainly are not the source of their relapse.
So, how should we handle this? What are we to do when the addict we love accuses us of making them slip? How do we deal with the guilt we often feel during these circumstances?
The answers to those questions is something we explore in depth at Adult and Teen Challenge. But to touch on some highlights, let’s look at the overall arching approach together.
Here’s the secret: You play the same game with the addict that they are playing with you.
The addict is avoiding responsibility, right? Now it’s your turn to avoid it. And here is what that looks like in real life.
The addict says, you made me do this. So, you say, “you made yourself do this.”
They say, it’s your fault I slipped. You say, “it is your fault you slipped.”
Always avoid responsibility the same way they do.
When the blame game shows up, play the blame game back. They say, “I wouldn’t have done this had you not…” And at that point, you kindly let them know, “Actually, you wouldn’t have done this had you not…”
Simply flip the script.
There are two reasons this is important.
First, it removes the guilt, blame, and responsibility off of the person it does not belong to – you.
Second, it put them on the shoulders of the person they do belong to – the addict.